Whether in publications, museum panels, or reports, historians typically share our work through the written word. Written communication skills, along with the skills of analysis, interpretation, and critical thinking, are fundamental to success as a history major and as a lifelong learner. The interpretation of primary sources, such as documents, images, artifacts, or other materials, is a crucial skill for historians. Making sense of these pieces of the past is the fun part of what we do as scholars and in the classroom.
This short assignment is for HIST 431, “Colonial America, 1492-1763.” It is designed to replicate the foundational components of a larger research project in a focused 5-6 page paper. The specific requirements for this paper included the identification and interpretation of several primary sources that are connected by time, place, or theme. Students were to then place these sources in context with the textbook, Alan Taylor’s American Colonies, and with other germane materials to be selected by the student. For this interpretive paper Clay Howarth identified and analyzed primary documents that illuminated William Penn’s policies toward Native Americans during the first decades of Quaker settlement in Pennsylvania. Mr. Howarth clearly supports his thesis with appropriate evidence while connecting his interpretation to other course readings and additional secondary sources. This short paper is clearly and engagingly written and could easily be expanded into a larger research project.
– L. Scott Philyaw